Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth - 1967

Introduction to "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", released in 1967, is not just a song; it's a powerful reflection of the social and political upheaval during the 1960s in the United States. This song, often associated with protests against the Vietnam War and civil rights movements, has become an anthem for change and resistance. In this module, you'll dive deep into its history, lyrics, and impact. Let's explore this iconic track together!

Background of "For What It's Worth"

The Story Behind the Song: "For What It's Worth" was written by Stephen Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield. The song was a response to the Sunset Strip curfew riots in 1966. It captures the spirit of the era, reflecting the tension between young people and the police.

The Band: Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield was a short-lived but highly influential rock band. Members included Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, and Dewey Martin. They played a crucial role in the development of folk rock and country rock.

The 1960s: A Time of Turbulence

The 1960s were marked by significant social and political changes. Key events included the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and various youth-led movements. "For What It's Worth" became a soundtrack to these tumultuous times.

Analysis of Lyrics

Understanding the Message: The lyrics of "For What It's Worth" are deceptively simple but deeply meaningful. They comment on the sense of paranoia and division in society. The chorus, "Stop, hey, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down," suggests a call to awareness and action.

The Music: Folk Rock Influence

The song's music features a catchy, jangling guitar riff and a steady, marching rhythm. Its folk rock style was influential in shaping the sound of the late '60s.

Impact and Legacy

A Timeless Anthem: Although written about a specific event, "For What It's Worth" has been used in various contexts over the years, from other protests to movie soundtracks, demonstrating its enduring relevance.

Covers and References

The song has been covered by many artists and referenced in popular culture, further cementing its place in music history.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What event inspired Stephen Stills to write "For What It's Worth"? (Sunset Strip curfew riots) (!Woodstock festival) (!First moon landing) (!Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.)

Which musical genre best describes "For What It's Worth"? (Folk rock) (!Psychedelic rock) (!Hard rock) (!Pop)

What is a key feature of the song's music? (Jangling guitar riff) (!Heavy drum solos) (!Synthesizer melodies) (!Horn section)

In what year was "For What It's Worth" released? (1967) (!1969) (!1965) (!1970)

Which member of Buffalo Springfield wrote "For What It's Worth"? (Stephen Stills) (!Neil Young) (!Richie Furay) (!Bruce Palmer)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

Which famous musician was a member of Buffalo Springfield besides Stephen Stills? (Neil Young) (!Bob Dylan) (!Eric Clapton) (!John Lennon)

How would you categorize Buffalo Springfield's contribution to music? (Influential in folk and country rock) (!Pioneers of electronic music) (!Mainstream pop artists) (!Jazz innovators)

What was a common theme in Buffalo Springfield's music? (Social and political issues) (!Love and relationships) (!Party and dance) (!Nature and the environment)

After Buffalo Springfield disbanded, which band did Stills and Young join? (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) (!The Rolling Stones) (!The Beatles) (!Pink Floyd)

What was unique about Buffalo Springfield's style? (Fusion of folk rock with country elements) (!Use of classical instruments in rock) (!Incorporating rap into rock music) (!Heavy use of electronic sound effects)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What does the lyric "Stop, hey, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down" signify in "For What It's Worth"? (A call to awareness and action) (!A celebration of music and dance) (!A depiction of a peaceful nature scene) (!A reference to technological advancements)

How do the lyrics of "For What It's Worth" reflect the era in which it was written? (Comment on social unrest and division) (!Celebrate the joys of youth) (!Describe the beauty of rural America) (!Talk about space exploration)

What is the tone of the lyrics in "For What It's Worth"? (Warning and reflective) (!Joyful and upbeat) (!Romantic and dreamy) (!Mysterious and cryptic)

The line "There's a man with a gun over there" in the song refers to what? (The presence of authority and conflict) (!A character in a movie) (!Hunting in rural areas) (!A sports event)

What theme is NOT directly addressed in the lyrics of "For What It's Worth"? (Romantic love) (!Social awareness) (!Paranoia) (!Call for attention to societal issues)


Create a memory game with matching pairs for this topic. Insert suitable texts (at least 5 pairs) using exactly the following format, write only the text and leave no characters out, do not transform anything into a table, etc.

Stephen Stills Wrote "For What It's Worth"
1967 Year of release
Sunset Strip riots Inspiration for the song
Folk rock Genre of "For What It's Worth"
Social unrest Central theme in the lyrics

Open Tasks


  1. Explore protest songs: Create a playlist of other protest songs from the 1960s and compare their themes and styles to "For What It's Worth".
  2. Music and social change: Research another song from the 1960s that was influential in social change and present your findings.
  3. Buffalo Springfield history: Write a brief report on the history and other works of Buffalo Springfield.


  1. Analyzing lyrics: Analyze the lyrics of "For What It's Worth" and write an essay on how it reflects the social issues of the 1960s.
  2. Create a documentary: Make a short documentary about the Sunset Strip curfew riots and the impact of "For What It's Worth".
  3. Musical influence: Explore how Buffalo Springfield influenced other artists and genres, and present your findings in a presentation.


  1. Create your protest song: Write and record your own protest song, inspired by the themes and style of "For What It's Worth".
  2. Debate club: Organize a debate on the impact of music on social movements, using "For What It's Worth" as a case study.
  3. Extended research: Conduct a detailed research project on the role of music in the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War protests.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the symbolism: Discuss the symbolism in the lyrics of "For What It's Worth" and how it reflects the broader social context of the 1960s.
  2. Compare and contrast: Compare and contrast "For What It's Worth" with a modern protest song. Discuss similarities and differences in themes and musical styles.
  3. Impact on society: Analyze the impact of "For What It's Worth" on society when it was released versus its relevance in today's context.
  4. Musical evolution: Discuss how the genre of folk rock, as exemplified by "For What It's Worth," has evolved over the years.
  5. Artist influence: Evaluate the influence of Buffalo Springfield on contemporary music artists.

OERs on the Topic


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